Last week Orlando became home for nearly 2,500 representatives from RFID suppliers, integrators and deploying enterprises. What sets this show apart from other industry events is not only the diversity of technologies, served markets and applications showcased, but the collaborative emphasis placed on using RFID to solve business problems.
RFID has evolved, and the main event reflects this evolution. The tone and tenor of conversations taking place in conference rooms and on the exhibit floor continues to migrate from the core technologies and their inherent capabilities (these go to 11) to the real world problems deploying enterprises are solving with the technology, increasingly enabled by open standards and supported by a growing list of complementary technologies.
Support for these trends were found throughout the RFID value chain, from new chip designs that provide increased functionality and flexibility, to new devices designed to address widening data capture requirements, to new software and service offerings designed to harness, aggregate and analyze more data than ever before:
- Chip designers at Impinj and NXP have been hard at work addressing customer requirements that arise as their chip sets are deployed. Each of these suppliers announced new offerings in Orlando, pushing the technical boundaries that limited the functionality of previous designs. Impinj took the best in show award for its Monza 4 tag chip family, which delivers unique privacy, performance, and memory benefits to customers with challenging RFID applications, and NXP answered with their new UCODE G2iL chip series delivering extended read ranges, unique anti-tampering and privacy protection features.
- Motorola introduced a new hybrid presentation imager with an integrated RFID reader. The DS9808-R is the first combination 1D/2D bar code scanner and RFID reader, but also the first combination handheld/hands-free UHF RFID reader. This device will enable retailers to manage existing store operations while exploring the benefits of real-time item-level inventory visibility.
- Savi announced its partnership with Odin to provide a unified passive and active RFID software platform designed to exploit the full range of RFID and related AIDC technologies, enabling customers to more effectively track and manage items, assets and containers in the Aerospace & Defense, Government, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and IT Services industries.
Nowhere in these companies’ presentations were there extended discussions about feeds, speeds, bits or bites. Instead, an emphasis was placed on where to look for data to develop information, how to aggregate this information, and how to use the intelligence derived from this information to more effectively manage risk, reduce operating expenses, retain customers and grow revenues. These conversations suggest that RFID is turning a corner, becoming a viable platform technology that will prove indispensable for the data, insight and perspective it can provide.